It’s easy to assume, if you live in an “enlightened” part of the world, that bigotry is a distant problem. But if there’s one thing the last few years have proven, it’s not. It’s woven into the very fabric of how we live, no matter where we live, and it’s just waiting to bubble up to the surface.
That’s the overarching theme of Infidel, a new horror comic launching today from Image Comics. In Pornsak Pichetshote’s story, Aisha isn’t surrounded by Nazis: She lives in New York, with a filmmaker husband, a Star Wars-obsessed stepdaughter, an architectural theorist for her best friend, and a racist mother-in-law she’s trying to build bridges with despite her husband’s seeming distaste for his own family. But there’s something lurking in her building, a tragedy that hasn’t quite been resolved, and it hates Aisha, unreasoningly.
Granted, the metaphors are not subtle here, but the metaphors in horror stories seldom are. And that doesn’t make them any less effective, especially in the hands of artist Aaron Campbell, who juxtaposes grounded, realistic art with twisted grotesquerie, helped substantially by Jose Villarubia’s vivid, unnerving color work. Infidel is a classic horror story, about the woman who doesn’t quite fit in, and the forces who want to drive her out, used to superb effect, with a twist that makes it a bit more than just another well-told tale.
Vampironica #1, Archie Comics
Continuing in the vein… er, tradition of Afterlife With Archie and Jughead: The Hunger, Greg and Meg Smallwood team up to make Veronica Lodge a vampire. Both Smallwoods have a wonderful skill with storytelling economy, meaning this book is both lightning-paced and crystal clear, and it would be a sturdy, fun book regardless of the setting. Of course, this raises the question of what happens when she meets Archie, but that’s another issue.
Dry County #1, Image Comics
Rich Tommaso may have a hit with Spy Seal, but his unique isometric style and personal sense of story loops back to crime. In this case, it’s a small, personal story, set in the early ’90s as Lou Rossi, a young newspaper cartoonist in Miami, meets a woman in the laundry room. Her story is nothing special; she’s married to a jerk, she wants out, and Lou wants to help. But Lou, of course, is in over his head. But the grounded story elevates this; Dry County has both a real sense of place and a strong sense of character that gives it depth, even in just one issue.
Marvel Two-In-One #4, Marvel
Chip Zdarsky and Valerio Schiti’s book, with half the Fantastic Four looking for the other half, has been a delight, so far, but here it really spreads its wings. Zdarsky and Schiti haven’t been shy in paying tribute to the cosmic tone of the FF books while putting their own spin on it, and now that the Thing and the Torch are hopping universes, it’s letting Zdarsky and Schiti riff on Marvel in different ways. The book closes with the kind of hook that will leave fans of old-school Marvel sitting back and smiling.
Eternity Girl #1, DC Comics
Magdalene Visaggio, Sonny Liew, and Chris Chuckry riff on the Sandman story about the depressed superheroine Element Girl, subbing in the obscure DC character Chrysalis. Chrysalis is the typical superhero, an overachiever who gained great power, joined a super-group, saved the world, and now… suffers from suicidal ideation, depression, and the kind of emotional problems you only get when you’re an unkillable being who really, really wants to die. But there is one way she can do it, but it will just take everyone down with her. It’s not a cheerful book, but Liew’s spindly style complements the material, and the premise is so intriguing it’s hard not to wish there was a second issue already.
Secret Weapons: Owen’s Story, Valiant Comics: Eric Heisserer, Raul Allen and Patricia Martin return to their brilliant team book with a heartwarming take on a superhero who can create stuff at random. Except, as the book shows us, it’s not random at all.
Mister Miracle #7, DC Comics: Tom King and Mitch Gerads pick up where their incredible book left off, with Big Barda and Scott facing the most terrifying moment of their lives: Childbirth, and also naming a New God. How’s “Thronebreaker” sound for a baby name?
Judas #4, BOOM! Studios: Jeff Loveness and Jakub Rebelka wrap up their take on just where Judas went after his infamous death and why he went there in a thought-provoking finale.
New Mutants: Dead Souls #1, Marvel Comics: Matt Rosenberg and Adam Gorham revive the ’90s team, including much of its original members, and put them on X-Files-esque cases in this entertaining miniseries.
Betrothed #1, Aftershock Comics: Teen romance meets tongue-in-cheek high fantasy in Sean Lewis and Steve Uy’s action book.
This Week’s Best Collections
The Sheriff Of Babylon: Deluxe Edition, DC Comics ($40, Hardcover): Tom King and Mitch Gerads’ searing look at the failures of the Iraq war gets a new hardcover that collects the first twelve issues, just in time for the upcoming new season.
Badlands, Dark Horse ($18, Softcover): Steven Grant and Vince Giarrano’s conspiracy thriller about who really shot Kennedy gets a new edition, and it’s as disturbing, and compelling, as ever.
Port Of Earth, Vol. 1, Image Comics ($10, Softcover): In Zack Kaplan and Andrea Mutti’s story, aliens have arrived on Earth. And don’t give a crap about us, except as a gas station, so now the police have to keep us away from the aliens and vice versa.